Q and A with Red Deer Lightweight Prospect “Irish” Cam O’ Connel


“Irish” Cam O’ Connel (2-0-1, 1 KO) was a huge stand out as an amateur, so huge in fact that he already had a star status in throughout Canada and was recognized internationally as an amateur. Cam will be fighting on a card in Edmonton, Alberta on May 31st put on by KO Promotions. Cam took time out of his busy schedule to do a little Q and A with me.

Julio Garcia: Hello Cam how are you doing?

Cam O’ Connel: I’m doing great. I’m in the midst of training for my upcoming fights with my amazing team. Enjoying every second of this ride, I couldn’t ask for anything more. Life is good.

JG: You were a huge standout in the amateurs, who long did you fight as an amateur and what was your greatest accomplishment?

COC: My amateur career consisted of 135 fights with me being victorious for 101 of them and having my first bout when I was 11 years old. It was a tough up bringing in this game. My coach throughout my amateur career Robert Carswell never ever turned down a fight for me. He always told me we will fight whoever whenever, always be in shape Cam. As I progressed that was our attitude so I never had time off because we never knew when I could catch my big break. That’s the same attitude my team keeps to this day. My greatest accomplishment wouldn’t be my greatest success it was just the biggest moment in my career. It was in Kansas City when and where I won the Ringside World Championships and as I won it in the ring right beside me my big brother and mentor Arash Usmanee was winning his fight at the exact same time. I would yell at him during my one minute rests and I could hear him yelling at me during his.

JG: Your first professional fight was held just about a year ago in Calgary how does it feel looking back?

COC: It was a year ago today that I took my first professional fight and looking back at it I am quite happy with it. I went into the fight thinking and being in the same mindset that I was in for all my amateur fights, happy and relaxed. I heard the guy was 2(2)-0 but I didn’t think about his resume, I just had think about what I had to do to be victorious.

JG: The fight itself was held in a small venue. Did that help you get over the jitters of your first pro fight?

COC: Yes the fight was held in a small venue but I can’t say that I have felt jitters for a very long time. So I guess to answer your question it didn’t help me get over them. For me it doesn’t matter who is in or out of the ring all that matters to me is how I perform. If my team puts me into a fight it’s because they know I can rise to the challenge, so I guess I leave the jitters to them.

JG: Your opponent in your debut; Janos Varadi was 2-0 with two KO’s, how did it make you feel when you essentially ended the fight with that body shot?

COC: When I stopped my first opponent with that body shot in the second round I was initially upset because I was just getting into the groove and wanted to showcase my skills. But looking back at it today, it started my career off perfectly and that hook in itself has just made me smile.

JG:  After that fight he only fought once more and lost. Do you feel you ruined him in a way?

COC: You and only you are a creator of your own destiny. By me stopping Janos I don’t think I ruined him as a fighter, because a real Champion gets back up and fights and trains harder. He had quite a bad attitude at the weigh-ins for our fight, and right then and there I knew he was no champion boxer but just a fighter.

JG: You fought twice more after your debut in 2012. How did those fights go in your mind?

COC: My last two fights were both against some tough well developed boxers, Dave Aucoin and Lexton Bates. Both of these men came to beat me, no intention to lie down or let me showcase my skills that is for sure. We had the opportunity to fight less skilled and less decorated fighters at both of these events and my team and I turned them down because we were in need of work and in need of a chance to show why we are here, to fight the best we can, and not just make our resume look good. So in saying that, these fights in my mind went pretty good as a boxer. I would have loved to do more and I’m always trying to improve and fix things that I did wrong but they were tough and they didn’t let me walk through them so I’m pretty happy with how they turned out.

JG: Your last two fights and your next fight are being held in Edmonton. What’s the fight scene like comparing Edmonton and Calgary?

COC: Honestly I don’t know how to answer that question. Fighting in Edmonton and in Calgary it seems the same to me. There is a good scene in both of these cities and a lot of supporters of boxing. In both cities I was treated great and I appreciate both of these cities for what they have and are helping me accomplish.

JG: I know you are from Red Deer; how many pro boxers do you know that have come out of Red Deer?

COC: I just asked my Coach this question because I didn’t want to miss anyone but according to him in the last 25 years there have only been 3 fighters who have come out of Red Deer and made it into the pro ranks. Myself, my big brother Arash Usmanee who I am trying to follow in his footsteps to get to the level where he is at now; ranked in the top 5 in the world, and super heavyweight Jarred Kilkenny.

JG: Do you hold your training camps in Red Deer or do you venture elsewhere?

COC: My training camps are scattered all over Alberta. My head Coach is situated in Lodgepole at the Alberta Boxing Training facility; It’s a great place for me to get focused for upcoming fights, no distractions. Me and my trainer Roman Rzepkoski travel there very regularly and train with him there. Also, we have to travel all over the place to get sparring, and my whole team travels with me to get this done but mostly in Edmonton and Calgary.

JG: What can you let us know about your camp, your team and your gym where you train out of?

COC: Well I can tell you I am absolutely blessed to have the team that I have right now, Robert Carswell, Doug Bolianatz and Roman Rzepkoski. In every aspect of my life right now they help keep me concentrated and focused on our goal. I would also have to include Arash Usmanee as a huge part of my team because he has helped me develop my style, helped be a sparring partner and mentor to me on this journey. Doug Bolianatz is the most knowledgeable coach I have worked with, we do pads for 2 minutes and it changes how I box and how I am able to think in the ring. His advice in the corner during fights and sparring is a game changer; he has been in the corner with so many great fighters and can read all fighters like a book. Robert Carswell and I share a great bond he has been my coach since day one. He has the ability to communicate with me what I have to do without even using words, we just understand one another. Roman Rzepkoski my trainer, this man has a huge heart and dedicates so much of his time to this team. He will sit and watch me shadow box, hit the bag and spar for hours and critic me in the best of ways. I just recently got married to the love of my life, now Tiffany O’Connell on Feb.2; I would have to include her as part of my team as well. No one else is lying beside me at the crack dawn pushing me out of my bed making run or hit the gym, without her drive to see me succeed this journey would have been completely different. Like I said I am truly blessed.

JG: You fight at lightweight but what is your current weight with about a month to go until the fight?

COC: I fight at light weight and with a month leading up to the fight my weight sits around 140. I want to be fighting at 130 but all we can find right now is opponents at 135, not a big difference to me, I am comfortable at either weight.

JG: What do you know about your opponent Harrison McBain?

COC: I have seen video on Harrison McBain, my next opponent and I have seen his resume. I have seen his style his attitude and his skills. That’s all my team needs at this point. I’m positive they have done the research and are getting me prepared properly.

JG: What do you see as your keys to victory over McBain?

COC: The key for me for my victory over Harrison McBain is to be mentally and physically prepared. I’m in a great state of mind and I’m feeling amazing I just have to go out there and again inshallah (God willing) showcase my boxing skills.

JG: There are quite a few great fights on the May 31st card, what are your predictions for those fights?

COC: To be completely honest with you I haven’t had the time to go through the whole line up of the May 31st card. I would have to say that there is always a fighter’s chance in any of the bouts and they look pretty evenly matched. To predict a fight you have to know what both fighters bring to the table and I haven’t took the time to look at all the opponents for all the guys and girls. But with that I will give you my prediction for the rematch against Jelena Mrdjenovich and Melissa Hernandez. I have watched their last fight and I have been sparring with Jelena for this upcoming fight. I have to say Jelena stops Melissa before the 6th round, the amount of heart she is pouring into her training and her will to succeed I don’t think there’s a fighting chance for it to go the other way again, and especially not in her home town.

JG: Speaking of predictions, how do you see the fight between Jean Pascal and Lucian Bute that takes place 6 days before your fight?

COC: I can’t say I have a prediction, I don’t follow boxing as closely as a lot of people expect. I love watching the fights and I do like to watch Jean Pascal, been looking up to him for years. As a kid I would be fighting in Quebec and the hype when he walked into the room for weight-ins was outstanding. But as for this fight I don’t have a prediction I’m sorry, but I will be watching it.

JG: How many times do you plan on fighting this year?

COC: I plan on fighting as much as I possibly can this year and in years to come. I love fighting, nothing compares to it. The reason I love it so much is not the fact that in the fight I can hurt or be hurt or the rush of it. The reason is I want to be the best I can be at what I do, and with every fight it gives me the opportunity to achieve what I didn’t have the ability to achieve in prior fights. In a sense I am fighting myself and the fighter I was last time around.

JG: What is your ultimate goal for the year?

COC: My goal this year is to keep building myself as a boxer and to progress through the rankings. I think it’s fair for me to see a Canadian Title as a goal for this year.

JG: Any message for boxing fans in Canada and throughout the world?

COC: First off I want to thank ThaBoxingVoice for taking this time to have me share this experience with them. I always appreciate the fans they are what makes this all come together, so thank you to anyone and everyone who took the time to read this Q and A, and I apologize for being so long winded. I hope to see everyone at my next fight put on by KO Boxing in Edmonton at the Shaw Conference Center this May 31st. I also hope to see you all again in Red Deer on June 29, I will be head lining the fight card there at the Capri Hotel. Thank You.